The First Time I Read Hemingway: Welcome Earl Staggs

I've been running this blog series since March 3 and I was wondering when Papa Hemingway was going to show up. Way to go, Earl. I turn to Hemingway whenever I find my narrative too long. That usually means I'm not sure what I want to say. Reading a few pages of Hemingway gets me back on track, especially with my WIP, a hardboiled mystery. Read on to find out how Ernest Hemingway inspired Earl Staggs. 

The first time I read a short story by Ernest Hemingway, I was indelibly impressed. “Wow,” I thought. “This guy doesn’t use a lot of words, but the ones he uses are powerful.”

Immediately after graduating from high school, Hemingway became a reporter for The Kansas City Star where he was instructed to "Use short sentences. Use short first paragraphs. Use vigorous English." He not only adopted that style for his journalistic efforts, but incorporated it into his fiction writing.

The New York Times praised his writing as “…a lean, hard, athletic narrative prose that puts more literary English to shame." Another critic said his spare, tight style "changed the nature of American writing."

When I began writing myself, while not consciously copying Hemingway’s style, I wanted to develop a lean, tight style of my own.

Later on, I was impressed with the writing of O. Henry, the pen name of William Sydney Porter, whose body of work was worlds apart from Hemingway’s. Much of Hemingway’s work depicted people caught up in tragic events of war-torn Europe, where he lived a good part of his productive life. O. Henry wrote primarily about ordinary people caught up in ordinary life closer to home.  

O'Henry became famous as a great story-teller with a natural gift for writing with humor, wit, and clever word play. He is also remembered as a master of the “surprise” or “twist” ending. He moved readers to tears as well as laughter and invariably brought them to an ending which was not expected.

My own writing varies from heavy and serious to light and humorous, and I’m not surprised when people detect influences from both Hemingway and O. Henry. In fact, I’m rather proud when I hear such comments. I like to think I learned from the best.

Earl Staggs earned a long list of Five Star reviews for his novels MEMORY OF A MURDER and JUSTIFIED ACTION and has twice received a Derringer Award for Best Short Story of the Year. He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine, as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars.
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A collection of 16 tales of mystery from hardboiled to humorous.

In this collection, you may read a hardboiled crime story, then go right into a light and humorous whodunnit, and from there, into a softboiled private eye yarn. I like this kind of variety when I read, and I hope you do, too. You won’t find offensive language, gory violence or explicit sex here. If my characters want to talk dirty or have sex, they’ll have to do it on their own time. 

"the same writing talent that made his novel, Memory of Murder, so good." Kevin R. Tipple
“not only entertaining, it grabs you and doesn’t let go.” Jean Henry Mead
“one of the best when it comes to short stories.” Kaye Barley
“a mastery of the mystery form that few have accomplished.” Larry D. Marshall

Available in ebook or print at: